The Dead Kennedys released “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” in 1981. The single came with an armband that featured a crossed-out swastika. It was written as a response to the appearance of neo-nazism and white supremacy in the punk rock culture in both the US and the UK.
After a neo-nazi coward ran his car into protesters last summer, killing 32 year old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more, the band posted the anti-swastika image on their Facebook page to the delight of tens of thousands.
This weekend Jello Biafra wrote an editorial piece titled “Dead Kennedy Songs Weren’t Supposed to Age This Well,” which you can find here.
We certainly hoped we’d never have to post this song again.
This weekend Northrop Auditorium is celebrating the restoration of its Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ, after a year and a half of work. The Minnesota Orchestra will be performing there on Friday and Saturday night, and there is a free program on Saturday morning that will feature several performers led by the U’s organist Dean Billmeyer.
The Minnesota Orchestra’s performances are especially exciting for several reasons. First of all, Northrop was where they recorded for more than a decade during the great era of American classical recordings — then the Minneapolis Symphony, they were, along with the Detroit Symphony, the flagship performers on Mercury Records’ Living Presence imprint.
The second reason its exciting is that they’ll be performing Charles Camille Saint-Saëns’s Symphony no. 3, commonly known as “The Organ Symphony.” Also on the program is a selection from one of Bach’s Partida and a new piece by John Harbison, What Do We Make of Bach? for Orchestra and Organ.
Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony is a favorite of ours. Some listeners regard him as too conservative and neo-classical, we love his rich sense of melody. Saint-Saëns was a child prodigy and a piano virtuoso, so he wrote extensively for the keyboard. Remarkably, although for twenty years he was the organist at La Madeline cathedral in Paris, Saint-Saëns did not write much for the organ. In this symphony, one of his most popular works, he chose to feature the instrument.
The organ’s part in the Symphony no. 3 is hardly intended to display virtuosity, but rather to celebrate the instrument’s extraordinary dynamic range and power. Here we’ve divided the symphony into four tracks, but technically it consists of two movements. They do still follow something along the lines of the familiar four movement form. The organ enjoys its dramatic moment three quarters of the way through the work.
Franz Liszt was an admirer of Saint-Saëns, and in turn the composer dedicated it to his memory. In many ways it feels like a tribute to Liszt, even though Saint-Saëns could not have known his friend would pass away shortly after its premier.
Dean Billmeyer will be performing the organ this weekend with the Minnesota Orchestra. The one you’re hearing on this record is played by Franz Eibner, performing with the Vienna Philharmusica Orchestra conducted by Hans Swarowsky. There are a ton of recordings of this symphony, and honestly this is not one of the best. It just happens to be one of our favorites for is brisk pacing and the wonderful interplay between the organ and the celeste and piano which follow its exciting appearance.
Mercury released a recording the symphony by of Paul Paray and the Detroit Symphony that is sure to please any audiophile, if they’re able to find a fine copy. Decca Records has recently reissued this and several other Living Presence titles on remastered 180gram LPs. Eugene Ormandy’s recording of the Symphony was a big seller and often turns up in record shops like ours (there’s one here right now). It features the legendary organist E. Power Biggs. A recording which captures the symphony’s darker, more brooding moments is the one by Charles Munch conduction the Boston Symphony on RCA’s Red Seal label. According to the liner notes, this one features another organ made by the Aeolian-Skinner company, who were based in Boston.
If you are lucky enough to hear the Organ Symphony this weekend at Northrop Auditorium, you’ll be sure to also feel it. Northrop’s 7000 pipe organ is sure to sound spectacular, especially in Saint-Saëns’s coda, where some of the bass notes are just barely in our range of hearing!
Minneapolis is one of the largest cities in America to toss out Columbus Day and no longer celebrate the life of a genocidal mass murderer. Today is Indigenous Peoples Day in the city, although when you got to the bank and thought Damn! the sign on the door probably still said “Closed for Columbus Day.”
We had proposed this change here on the Hymie’s blog every Columbus Day for years, and also produced a program about the music of the Native American protest movement for KFAI’s Wave Project in 2011. Here it is:
Our old friends the Southside Aces have been holding down a residency at the Eagles Club #34 here in the neighborhood for longer than we can remember. On the second Thursday of every month the present an evening of traditional jazz certain to please even the most discriminating listener or dancer. Often we discuss upcoming themes with clarinetist Tony Balluff here in the shop, whether it’s a night of early Ellingtonia or an evening with the music of Sidney Bechet.
And for a long time we have been encouraging the talented Mr. Balluff to consider a jazz theme that is ostensibly outside the box — the music featured on The Muppet Show!
You may think its silly at first, but the early Muppet performers — Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt and more — loved traditional jazz. The show itself was modeled after a vaudeville program. Its magical and meteoric five year run was peppered with tunes from the turn of the century through the jazz era.
We have been posting about the music of The Muppet Show since the early days of the Hymies blog, just search in that box on your right for “muppet” and you’ll see! We are very excited for the Aces to perform many of the jazz standards which appeared on the show as well as their interpretations of some Muppet originals we suggested. All this happens this coming Thursday and the Eagles Club!
Here is one of our favorite Irving Berlin tunes as it appeared in the third season of The Muppet Show. A little background: “Blue Skies” was also the first song heard in a motion picture, when Al Jolson sang it in The Jazz Singers. It was written to fill space in a largely forgotten Rodgers & Hart musical called Betsy but went on to become a favorite of jazz music.
Last week we sat down with Andrea Swensson from Minnesota Public Radio’s Current to share some stories from the last decade here at your friendly neighborhood record shop. And more specifically to talk about the future. It’s been a wild ride, and we’re really proud of the shop we built here after our 2009 move, but we also feel its time for someone else to make their mark here. And that’s why Hymie’s Records is for sale.
You can read Andrea’s story on the Current’s blog here.
(Photo by Nate Ryan for Minnesota Public Radio)
Don’t worry friends, the record store isn’t going anywhere. This is our neighborhood (the best in the world!) and we can’t imagine it without the best record store in the world! In the mean time, interested parties can contact us for more information at Irene at Hymiesrecords.com.
Our pals the Southside Aces are returning to one of their favorite themes for this month’s ‘second Thursday’ performance at the Eagles Club #34, and that’s the music of New Orleans clarinet legend George Lewis. It may be because the Aces’ clarinet player picks the themes, but either way George Lewis night presents the band at their best.
Lewis was largely unheard outside of New Orleans until the middle of his career, when we went on to become an ambassador of sorts for traditional jazz. From the 1940s until his death in 1968 he recorded and toured, documenting the pre-swing sound with his big sound and distinctive style.
The Southside Aces will perform songs associated with Lewis this Thursday night at the Eagles, starting at 8pm.